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UNRWA schools in Gaza benefit from innovative rainwater reuse project

News and Press Release
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East Jerusalem

On 27 April, the Gulf Cooperation Council Gaza Reconstruction Fund (administered by the Islamic Development Bank) agreed to dedicate US$ 750,000 from the contribution of the Government of Qatar to fund an environment-friendly project in Gaza, enabling UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) schools to reuse rainwater. The rainwater will be collected in storage pits to be built in schools, and then used for the schools’ gardens and washrooms. The wastewater will subsequently be filtered and then pumped into the aquifer. This project will target 29 schools throughout the Gaza Strip, and contribute notably to improving the quantity and quality of the aquifer and mitigate damage caused by flooding.

Welcoming this contribution, Robert Turner, Director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza, stated: “Given the severe water problems which Gaza is facing and will face in future, this project will be very valuable. Maximum use has to be extracted from every drop of water in Gaza and that’s what this project does. We are very grateful to the Government of Qatar which is providing the funds as part of its contribution to the Gulf Cooperation Council Gaza Reconstruction Fund, and to the Islamic Development Bank which is administering the funds, for all their support.”

The project is a further example of UNRWA efforts to provide the best possible services for Palestine refugees in Gaza while finding innovative solutions to address some of the Gaza Strip’s most pressing environmental challenges. A new project aiming at providing solar energy to schools is currently under discussion which, if fully implemented, could make UNRWA a net provider of electricity to the Gaza Strip.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.

Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, expanding need, and deepening poverty. As a result, the Agency's General Fund (GF), supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the deficit stands at US$ 68 million.

For more information, please contact:

Christopher Gunness
UNRWA Spokesperson
Mobile: +972 (0)54 240 2659
Office: +972 (0)2 589 0267
c.gunness@unrwa.org (link sends e-mail)

Sami Mshasha
UNRWA Arabic Spokesperson
Mobile: +972 (0)54 216 8295
Office: +972 (0)2 589 0724